Montreal: crossroad of the world

Montreal’s literary landscape is the very embodiment of diversity: linguistic diversity, certainly—Montreal is the heartbeat of the province of Quebec,North America’s 8-million strongFrench-speaking enclave—but also of gender and cultural communities.

The Montreal book scene is an ecosystem whose exceptional vitality is reflected in the writers, publishers and bookstores that are part of it. Michel Tremblay, a prolific author from the Plateau-Mont-Royal neighbourhood—which, incidentally, created a mural in his honour—has delighted legions of readers. His six-book series, “Les Chroniques du Plateau-Mont-Royal,” depicts the colourful people and joualstreet dialect of a working-class district. Then there’s Gabrielle Roy and her Bonheur d’occasion (literally, “second-hand happiness,”), published in English as The Tin Flute, which is set during the Second World War in the slums of Saint-Henri, today a thriving community. Contemporary Anglo-Montreal writer Heather O’Neill reflects today’s linguistic duality. The story of her latest novel, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, recently translated into French, takes place on the eve of Quebec’s 1995 sovereignty referendum and deftly captures the cultural conversation of the day.

Montreal’s LGBTQ community is also recognized and celebrated.Traditionally active on the cultural scene, its members continue to advance the cause and rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other minorities and to increase awareness surrounding gender issues and equality. Hats off to thetremendous work by bookstores such as Le Port de tête on Mont-Royal Avenue and L’Euguélionne on Beaudry Street in the Village, which promote Quebec literaryhouses that publish so many of this community’s talented authors, too numerous to name.

And finally, we salute the exceptional work of publishing houses Mémoire d’encrier, Lux and Écosociété and many others, which give a voice to those who are too often deprived of theirs. These houses champion writers whose strongly held beliefs and perspectives often run counter to mainstream thinking, but who ultimately shed new light on realities most of us have no connection to.

Whether they come to Montreal for a short trip or a longer stay, visitors invariably arrive at the same conclusion: this is great place to live! Why? Because Montreal embraces and protects diversity, a reality that’s wonderfully reflected in its thriving literary scene.